Shetland Society of Wellington: Centenary Viking Ball

As Scottish Country Dancers, we celebrate Scotland and her dances whenever we gather together on the dance floor.

There are many other groups in Wellington who celebrate things Scottish, some of them also through dance. The Shetland Society of Wellington is one such organisation.

Their website states:

We are a group of people with an interest in Shetland – some of us were born there, some have a family connection, and others are just “interested”. One thing we all have in common is an enthusiasm for these unique, far-flung islands, their culture, music and heritage.

For many years, the Shetland Society has organised a Viking Ball, and this year’s Centenary Viking Ball on Saturday 10 September is extra special, marking 100 years of the Society in Wellington.

Photo: stuff.co.nz 2011

Rod and I last attended in 2014, and had a great time. It’s always fun, especially if you go with friends. We have very fond memories of the night, especially as it inspired Rod to devise a new dance, with a new formation.

His dance, Moggie and the Fish, drew inspiration from the Sheepskin Hey in English country dancing, with a new formation called a Progressive Sheepskin Hey. This formation evokes memories of all those Vikings dressed in sheepskin at the ball.

Rod’s fish kilt-pin

The ‘fish’ was actually a fish kilt-pin that fell off Rod’s kilt, landing under the dinner table, and being found at the end of the night by fellow Scottish Country Dancer Moggie Grayson.

Moggie kindly mailed it back to Rod, generously including a poem to record her finding of said fish. Read Moggie’s poem in our article Naming Dances

There’s no video of Moggie and the Fish. However, Pat Reesby’s video from Johnsonville’s 2015 Annual Dance shows the related dance The Viking’s Sheepskin which starts with the same new formation, the Progressive Sheepskin Hey.

You can also see the original Sheepskin Hey in the English country dance Picking up Sticks, it starts about 1.30 minutes into the video.

Back to this year’s Centenary Viking Ball. It promises to be ‘a night of dancing and laughter, a sumptuous supper and some Vikings’.

Dinner is by Sarah Searancke, and dancing will be a mix of Scottish Country Dances, ballroom and modern.

Local ceilidh band Schiehallion will once again provide the music, and you’ll recognise many of our local Scottish Country Dance musicians on stage.

Mary and Duncan McDonald, Iain Matcham, Alastair McCarthy and John Jowett will join band leader Lynne Scott to bring you a fantastic night’s dancing.

Something a bit different, with the chance to share the dance floor with a Viking or two! Photos of the 2021 Ball on The Shetland Viking Dance Facebook page give a taste of all the fun to be had.

Photo: The Shetland Viking Dance Facebook Page

Note: Centenary celebrations also include a textile exhibition at Odlin’s Gallery in September, and for the knitters among you – a unique Fair Isle ‘Centenary Beanie’ pattern has been created, available for anyone to use.

Kristin Downey
3 August 2022

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